New climate action rulebook is not sufficient, say scientists

UN summit in Poland signs off on implementation plan for Paris Agreement

The UN summit in Katowice, Poland, signed off on a climate action rulebook that will come into force in 2020. Photograph: Karolina Jonderko/The New York Times

Scientists have warned that a new plan to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and cutting carbon emissions across the world is not sufficient given the challenges facing the planet.

A UN summit in Katowice, Poland, signed off on a new rulebook that will come into force in 2020. How individual governments should scale up their efforts to reduce emissions was left unresolved.

Johan Rockstrom, director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said his biggest concern was that "the UN talks failed to align ambitions with science".

“We continue to follow a path that will take us to a very dangerous 3-4 degrees warmer world within this century. Extreme weather events hit people across the planet already, at only 1 degree of warming.”


Prof John Sweeney, an Irish climatologist who was an observer at the talks, said the outcome lacked urgency given the findings of the recent UN report.

While elements of the rulebook were welcome, he said there was an overall lack of ambition which “set back the process by a few years in terms of co-operation”.

Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton said progress would have to reported across the board in a consistent manner.

“Of particular importance is the agreement of the rulebook which will ensure that all countries are reporting progress in a consistent and transparent manner,” he said.

The gavel came down late on Saturday after two weeks of negotiations.

Xie Zhenhua, China's climate chief, welcomed the deal. "Climate change is the greatest challenge of mankind, in front of it no country is spared, and destinies are shared."

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times